I love this time of year. Between Halloween, the holiday season on the horizon, and the fantasy football season reaching its critical weeks, I am wound up like a 7 year old after inhaling a bag of Halloween candy (perhaps that is because I’ve been face down in a bowl of miniature Snickers since Monday). Besides the holiday madness, fantasy football begins building steam as the calendar flips to November. With each matchup gaining more significance as the standings shake out, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to improve our teams before trade deadlines approach.  So, drop the Kit-Kats and Tootsie Rolls, and dig through the bag for some Pixie Stix because we have some work to do. Let’s roll through a couple of players and a couple of thoughts about the world of fantasy trades as we head into week 9…

Jermichael Finley: As we touched on in week 8’s Smash Back, the pool of tight ends is extremely deep this season, which means teams may have more expendable depth. Finley recorded a whopping 3 catches for 33 yards over the two games before Green Bay’s bye week. Granted, one was for a touchdown, but the reception totals for Finley should be much higher. File this one under the “it can only get better” category, as Finley is far overdue for some big games and big games are what fantasy owners love down the stretch.

Try this: Check in with Finley’s owner this week and see what positions they need help with. Due to all the emerging tight ends this season, Finley may not be the only productive tight end on that team’s roster. See if you can trade some RB or WR depth for Finley if you need an upgrade at tight end. I would feel good starting negotiations with a nice WR2 and working my way up from there. The Green Bay offense is too good to completely ignore this weapon much longer. Go get yourself some.

Cedric Benson: Benson has been pretty mediocre this season, but this is a situation to check out due to the amount of baggage surrounding the Cincinnati running back. Benson’s suspension is now over, but the absence saw Bernard Scott perform admirably, which might make Benson owners uncomfortable. Add that to the fact that Benson hasn’t played since week 6 and the Bengals face some tough run defenses in the next few weeks (Balt, Pitt twice), and you might find yourself an owner ready to dump a serviceable running back at a discount. Why should you attempt to acquire a player with such issues? That’s where your fantasy trading savvy comes in handy…

Try this: This one is all about the spin. The layoff for Benson should actually mean he’s more rested down the stretch, and despite a tough slate of defenses upcoming, the Bengals play St. Louis and Arizona in weeks 15 and 16, which is easy money. Slowly bring the topics of Bernard Scott’s encroachment, the Bengal’s schedule, and Benson’s rust into the conversation. This is a situation to handle delicately. Please don’t rush out of the gate with this email:

“Hey! Are you interested in trading Cedric Benson? Scott looked good last week filling in, so he may get more carries going forward. Oh, did I mention that Cincy plays some tough run defenses in the next few weeks? Don’t worry, trade him to me!”

People in your league are (hopefully) not dumb enough to fall for something like that. Instead, begin slowly by asking if any of the other team’s running backs are for sale. Whittle the choices down to Benson and casually mention some of the issues we previously discussed as your concerns. Start with that and slowly work your way to a starting offer of a mid-level WR or some of your TE depth for Benson. The key here is communication, which leads me to my next point…

Failure to Communicate: Over the past few weeks I have heard numerous discussions about the fact that fantasy trades are often difficult pull off. Everyone has been in a league with a stagnant trade market, or teams not willing to make moves to better their rosters. These types of leagues suck. How do we make our leagues more interactive and increase trade activity? The answer is simple: Communication (don’t worry, this type of communication is much more fun than the variety your significant other has been clamoring for.). Do your trade offers go unanswered? Do you receive rejection after rejection with no counter offers or justification? Well, partner, you need to bust out that phone, email, twitter, message board, telegraph, or whatever tickles your fancy, and start yacking.

Try this: Stop sending out blank trade proposals. Yes, Arian Foster is awesome, and you would like to have him on your team. I can guarantee there is a ZERO percent chance that another owner would agree to the type of blockbuster deal necessary to acquire a player like Foster through one generic offer. Even smaller scale offers need some massaging. Always begin trade negotiations with an email. If you are in a league with strangers, most host websites have an option for you to directly email or message other owners. Start there. Begin by asking what players are available and offer up some players on your roster that could be moved for the right price. This simple 3 minute email is all it takes to build a foundation upon which to build your ideal fantasy trade. The more conversation, the better.

Know Thy Schedule: This is a simple one, but is easy to overlook. Take 2 minutes out of your busy afternoon of grubbing Golden Grahams and watching Animal Planet to mosey over to your league website and read your team’s schedule. This is crucial. If you plan on being active in the trade market as your league’s deadline approaches, it is critical that you know who you play down the stretch. Do NOT make a trade that cures a bye week issue for a team you play in week 10. If you are 4-4 and need every possible victory, don’t make a trade to help out the team that is just ahead of you in the standings and on your schedule in week 11.

Try this: Keep your upcoming schedule handy, especially for weeks 9-11 (remaining bye weeks). If you are in trade talks with another team that you are playing in those weeks, be careful about what you are giving up. For example, I play a team that has Arian Foster in week 11, which happens to be Houston’s bye week. That owner hit me up this week attempting to acquire some of my running back depth to help with bye week issues. Once I realized that Foster’s bye week gave me a distinct advantage in week 11, I immediately told him thanks, but no thanks (in a much more derogatory manner). As we head down the home stretch, keep your schedule in mind as you wheel and deal.

Hopefully all of you enjoyed your Halloween weekend…and stayed away from Julian Edelman. Now go beat down on your week 9 opponent and get yourself one game closer to a playoff spot.

  1. Nick says:
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    Trying to shed my TE debt, and been offered Shonn Greene and Colston for my Witten/Chris Johnson/Tebow. The owner wants Tebow this week to fill in for his bye’d QB, and really wants Witten. I have Finley at TE so I wouldn’t be losing there. The other owner also has Blount and I’m wondering if I should push for him instead (other owner’s reluctant), or just go with the given deal.

  2. Random Collmenter says:
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    Thinking about offering Megatron for F-Jax (.5 PPR league). Before you call me crazy, hear me out:

    – I’m 3 – 5 and figure I can only lose one more time to have a chance at the playoffs.
    – Calvin has a bye this week and I NEED a win (my QB Cam is on bye too). My other WRs are Miles Austin and Larry Fitz so I’m pretty solid there (and we only start 2 WRs).
    – My RBs are in trouble – I have Mathews and CJ2Gay (had to write it when I thought of it, hope you’re not offended).
    – F-Jax already has his bye.

    What do you think? If I lose this week, I’m totally screwed… as of now I would be starting CJ AND Ringer, Jerome Simpson in the flex, and Cassel at QB. Acquiring Fred Jackson would at least give me a chance! And his schedule is pretty soft for the rest of the year.

    I’ve already tried offering Megatron for Rice, Arian, Peterson, and Forte, but no one’s biting…

  3. Fernando says:
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    Hi. I have S. Jackson on my team. After this week’s matchup against Arz S. Jax schedule becomes harder. Would he be considered a sell high candidate? And Who/ What type of player would he pull in?

    Please help me improve my squad. Thanks.

    10 team standard league scoring qb, wr, rb, te, w/r, w/r, w/r,k, def, and 6 on the bench

    My team:
    qb Romo, Tebow; wr R. White and Manningham; rb Peterson, S. Jackson, F Gore, Bradshaw + Ware, Murray, D. Thomas, Battle, te Petegrew

  4. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @Nick: I think the deal is ok since you have that depth. I would try for Blount but Greene has a nice schedule upcoming. not bad either way.

    @random collmenter: With your current roster I don’t see any problem with that at all. Every win is crucial right now…but I think that deal is good anyway.

    @Fernando: you’ve got some rb depth there so if you want to dump sjax after his big week 8, I think you should aim high for a WR1. start talking to some teams that are thin at rb and go from there.

  5. Nick says:
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    Thanks Jeff!

  6. John H says:
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    Would I be crazy to turn down this offer of McFadden for Sproles? My league is PPR, gives bonuses for return yards, and I’m 7-1 and don’t really want to mess with a good thing. On the other hand, McFadden is a monster when healthy, I own M.Bush, so I’ve got whoever starts either way down the stretch… I feel like I’m crazy to turn this down… Your thoughts?

  7. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @John H: How many points does Sproles get you each week from return yardage?

  8. Public Enemy #1 says:
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    Jeff, thanks for putting out good stuff for us to read each week. I was wondering your opinion of a trade that was accepted in our league today (standard scoring system):

    Team 1 gets: Brady, MMorris and Cinci D

    Team 2 gets: Turner, S. Johnson (Buffalo) and Tebow

  9. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @public enemy #1: No problem, thanks for reading. As far as the trade is concerned, I like the Turner side better, but Tebow is the wild card there. If he has more weeks like week 8, the sides will be closer in value. What has the reaction been like from the league? They think its too lopsided?

  10. Public Enemy #1 says:
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    Some members of the league feel that since the owner giving up Turner would be left with a pathetic combo of Blount and MMorris to fill his two RB slots that the trade doesn’t make sense. Plus, Tebow hasn’t been terrible fantasy-wise (NFL-wise is a different story) but he also has MRyan on his bench and he’d seem better off keeping the better skill players. However, it probably isn’t all that detrimental to the league. Thanks for your opinion and good luck to you in your personal fantasy match ups this week.

  11. Rocky says:
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    Would you trade Greene and Stevie Johnson for Murray and Julio Jones? I figure Murray and Jones have a lot of upside and I won’t be losing too much because I have decent depth in both positions.

  12. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @Public Enemy #1: I see where the other members of your league are coming from. However, as you’ve noticed in the media lately, Tim Tebow has a seriously polarizing impact on people…maybe the guy who traded for him thinks he’s awesome. Good luck to you this week as well.

    @Rocky: I’m not sure if I would do that deal personally, since all indications are that Murray will split with Jones upon his return. However, if you arent really counting on playing Greene week-to-week, I could see you making the deal. Like you said, some upside would be nice to add if you can afford giving up some depth. Plus I love me some Julio Jones.

  13. Jokerpup says:
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    Calvin Johnson @ Ed Dickson for V-Jax, Dez, Tolbert in a PPR

  14. Johnny Ringo says:
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    I give up Shonne Greene and Heyward-Bey for Chris Johnson and Jabar Gaffney….thoughts? I lost Jamaal Charles and Felix Jones during the year, and traded Sid Rice for Greene after Rice had two good weeks. Also, the WR’s are meaningless, as I wouldn’t start DHB (or Gaffney) outside of injury.

  15. John H says:
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    @Jeff Brubach: Glad you asked… in week one he scored a TD off a return and his return efforts were good for 15.5 pts. Week 2:1pt. Week 3:5.5pts, week4: 2pts, week 5:0pts. week6: 2pts, week7: 3pts. And week 8: 8.6pts. For an average of 4.7pts per week. (Of course the big week one skews that. What do you think? Keep in mind PPR as well.

  16. Jay says:
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    Trying to acquire another top RB. 12team, 1PT PPR, non keeper

    My Team
    W5-L3
    QB Stafford, Freeman
    RB Foster, Green, Starks, Moreno, Tate, Scott
    WR Wallace, Miles, JulioJones
    TE F Davis
    Flex A Hernandez

    I offered Wallace,Green,Moreno but McGahee’s return through a monkey wrench in. Wallace, Green, Starks too much to give up for McCoy/DavidNelson? Several teams bunched up at 5-3 and trying to separate from the pack…

  17. MrHappyTime says:
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    McGahee or Lynch for the rest of the year?

  18. YardWork says:
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    I’m in a league where I can only start 2 RB and 2 WR, along with everything else. I have AP, FJax, and DMC. My QB is Matt Ryan. I got offered Brees and S.Holmes for FJax, Ryan and Nate Washington. The rest of my WR corp is S.Smith, Marshall, Antonio Brown. AND another team offered Eli & Julio for Ryan/DMC. Pull the trigger on any? Or hold tight?

  19. Chris says:
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    14 team auction league, +0 PPR, 2 QB/2 RB/3 WR/1 FLEX. I’m 4-4.

    Traded Jennings and Lloyd for Steven Jackson and Starks.

    My RBs prior to trade were McCoy, Morris, Scott, and Brown (traded Pierre Thomas recently to upgrade from Painter at QB2).

    My WRs prior to trade were Wallace, Jennings, Lloyd, Burress, and Meachem.

    What do you think of the trade? I wanted to only deal 1 of Wallace or Jennings straight up for a mid-low end RB1, but nobody was biting but this guy, and he really wanted 2 WRs. Had some very serious doubts that I could get by w/ Morris and those other schmoes as my RB2 (especially with Morris on BYE this week).

  20. Chris says:
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    @Chris: Oh, and I think I’ll try to deal Starks or Morris for a decent WR2 if I can. But even if not, WR is a lot easier to fill off the wire than RB, especially in a 14 team league. Guys like Roy Williams, Burleson, and Jason Hill are still out there.

  21. Jake says:
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    Best WR trade target in a +0 PPR league: Stevie Johnson, Garcon, Holmes, Antonio Brown.

  22. John H says:
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    Chris, I hate to say it, but I think you got hammered in that trade. Lloyd is trending upward and Jennings is elite. Added to Wallace you had an elite crew. Starks stinks, you can’t trust him, and Jackson is okay, but not nearly as good as what you gave it’ll be hard to get a WR2 for either of those running backs. Your running backs were shaky, but you could’ve gotten by. I think Jackson/McCoy is certainly a great tandem, but your Wide Receivers are a huge question mark now.

  23. John H says:
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    @YardWork: I’d do the first trade. Like that you’re getting an elite QB in exchange for basically depth. Jackson is awesome but like you said,you can only play 2.

  24. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @Jokerpup: If you need the depth, its not too bad.

    @Johnny Ringo: Chris Johnson is pretty toxic right now. If you think that he will turn things around, go for it. Greene has a nice schedule upcoming as well, so I think I would ultimately hold off.

    @John H: Interesting. Well, they are much closer in value in this format. I understand not wanting to stir the pot at all, but if you’ve got some other backs, it might be nice to be able to roll our DMC during the playoffs. At 7-1 you can probably afford missing him for a week or two so I would probably do it. I’m assuming the other team is in “win now” mode, so they need immediate production. So if you’ve got another back or two to rely on in the next couple weeks, I would do it.

    @Jay: In a 1 pt ppr league, I don’t think the McCoy/Nelson trade is too bad. I would try to get a slightly better WR than Nelson, but I like the idea there. Foster/McCoy would be ridiculous at RB, and then Austin/Julio would still be good at WR.

    @MrHappyTime: McGahee. Should be back this week.

    @YardWork: Not overly excited about either deal, but I like the idea of you snagging Brees the best. The DMC injury really impacts things, but I’d see if somehow you could swap him into the deal instead of FJax. Keep working on the Brees deal until the other team sweetens it up a bit.

    @Chris: I agree, my main league is a 14 teamer and WR is much easier to fill off the wire. Looks like your hands were tied due to your lack of depth at RB, so I see what you were going for, although I think you gave up a bit too much. I think the deal is decent. And I would try dishing Morris for a WR right now too.

    @Jake: Brown. He won’t cost as much as the others.

  25. Chris says:
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    @John H: Thank you for the opinion. I don’t love the trade either, but I also don’t think I got hammered. Like I said, I’m hurting at RB, and Jackson only has 10 less pts on the season compared to Jennings, despite essentially missing 3 games. So I wouldn’t consider him as anything less than an equivalent value to Jennings, if not a slight upgrade. I tried dealing Jennings straight up for guys like Fred Jackson, Jones-Drew and Gore, but no one was having it. Those targets, or higher, just weren’t gonna happen.

    I’d agree that Lloyd is the wildcard. He’s had a nice last 2 weeks, and a lot of targets, but still nothing all that mindblowing. I’d still prefer him to Starks, possibly by a decent margin, but again I consider their values in the same ballpark.

  26. Mr2Bits says:
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    Hey : Going to lose Eman Sanders with Ward coming back and his loss this week(knee and mom). Who do you like better, Jacoby Jones for another week or so to fill in for AJ or Doug Baldwin? PPr league and thanks a million.

  27. Chris says:
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    @Jeff Brubach: Gonna try to deal Starks, or preferably Morris, for a WR if I can. Since it’s a 14 teamer, there’s some teams trotting out some pretty ugly RB2s (much like I was). 1 team has Torain as their only starting RB, another is going to be starting Lumpkin…. Might not get a Lloyd type in return, but maybe someone like Sidney Rice, Nate Washington, or Mike Williams (TB)….

  28. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @Mr2bits: I would roll with Dougie Fresh.

    @Chris: if you can get your paws on Mike Williams tb do it. he will be good down the stretch.

  29. Dolla says:
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    12 team ppr….in need of waiver advice…

    B. Jacobs was dropped on Wednesday morning….he is on waivers, I have # 1 priority…I am considering dropping any of the following….

    J. Ringer
    Felix Jones(traded Decker for him)
    DHB
    Harvin

    My Roster is:

    QB- Stafford, Fitzpatrick
    RB- Foster, Forte, Best, D. Thomas, F. Jones, J. Ringer
    WR-Walace, Marshall, Harvin, DHB
    TE- Gresham
    K- Gostkowski
    D- Streamer(Week 9- Oakland)

    Thanks for the help!

  30. mike says:
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    Would you trade away CJ2K for Miles Austin? 12 team PPR.

  31. Johnathan says:
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    Jeff, would you do this trade?

    I give Stafford and Felix Jones for Hasselbeck and Ryan Mathews.

    I am 3-5 in a 14-team league.
    My QB’s are: Stafford, Tebow,
    My RB’s are: Mendenhall, M. Morris, Ogbonayya, and Jones

    What do you think?

  32. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @Dolla: keep the wide receivers, you’re thin there. I would drop Ringer out of those options.

    @Mike: yes I would

    @Jonathan: Difficult situation with your current RB setup. I dont think I would do that. You would then be terrible at qb and I think the difference between Staff and Hass is greater than Mathews to one of the other RBs.

  33. Chris says:
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    Well, I managed to trade Tarvaris Jackson and Plaxico Burress for Dwayne Bowe. It was nice to be able to have a 3rd starting QB in a 2 QB league, but the only time I’ve played him was during a BYE. It’s crunch time and I need to win at least 3 out of the last 5, I’ve gotta put my best possible lineup out there on the field….reserves aren’t gonna get it done.

  34. wallyworld says:
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    how far has Chris Johnson fallen?

    I have brees and thinking about doing Schaub for CJ, I have Felix and Best hurt so need the help. Would you do it?

  35. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @Chris: Nice work, I like that one a lot. If youve already got 2 other starting QB’s then thats a sweet deal.

    @wallyworld: If Schaub is just your backup, then I have no problem with that at all. He’s fallen pretty damn far but Schaub is only gonna play for you during NO’s bye week, so I think its worth a shot…just dont get your hopes too high for CJ.

  36. allan says:
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    better play on def this week

    pit vs bal
    buf vs nyj

    buf gives up a lot of pts but they also get a lot of sacks and turnovers

  37. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @allan: I’d go with Pittsburgh. Aside from the comeback last week, Flacco hasnt been great and I think Pitt will be fired up after getting spanked by Baltimore in week 1.

  38. Buddy the Elf says:
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    Do you think Julian Edelman will play this weekend versus the G-Women? If so, will he score a touchy?

  39. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @buddy the elf: ha yes. lots of touchies.

  40. friar says:
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    Help! I’m in BIG trouble this week, with McFadden, Mathews, and Hillis all unlikely to play. I have Torain and Ringer on my bench and could pick up Grant, Barber, D. Brown, Scott, or Ball off the waiver wire. Which two guys should I go with this week while I wait for my starters to heal?

  41. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @friar: go with the two you’ve got. good luck, tough situation.

  42. Blain Train says:
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    I’ve been working on this trade, let me know what you think. I give Pettigrew & Tolbert for Ryan Fitzpatrick. I’m stuck with Tebow & Cassel at QB right now and need help. I also have Foster, Blount, Murray & Felix at RB and Gates & Gresham at TE. Thanks for your advice!

  43. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @blain train: given your depth, I think the deal is pretty good…I like fitz

  44. Chris Crawley says:
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    Hey just wondering if you see any improvement I can make for the playoffs moves I should try and make or players I should go after I’m 8-0 in a 10 team league non ppr
    Qb newton big Ben
    Rb rice s jax f jax hunter Tate
    Wr Wallace welker Harvin j Baldwin a brown
    Te gronkowski Gresham
    K Crosby
    Def ravens
    It’s start qb 3 wr 2 rb te flex k def

  45. jeff says:
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    The only thing i worry about Finley, Rogers et all is McCarthy doesn’t have a track record of what he does when they clinch homefield throughout the playoffs. Green Bay could possibly do that with 2,3,games maybe 4 remaining on the schedule. The next closest team? San Fran?? ..at 6-1? I see them losing a few more, with games remaining against Baltimore and Pitt. and conference games.
    Comments?

  46. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @Chris Crawley: Damn, nice squad…looks like you’re set for the most part. The only thing I can think of is perhaps get rid of Ben after he fills in for Cam this week. However, that would really just be trading your backup QB for a backup at another position. So unless someone is strapped at QB and wants to trade you a decent WR, I’d stay put.

    @jeff: Thats a good thought. I doubt they would really throw the brakes on for more than 1, maybe 2 weeks, but it will be an interesting situation to watch unfold.

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